ServiceNow Virtual Agent Overview:

ServiceNow Chat Screen

ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent is a Platform-native chatbot that delivers general and personalized answers to users’ questions and has the ability to kick off workflows, open tickets, and hand off the conversation to a live agent if needed.

The Virtual Agent is available in channels that your end users are already using including desktop and mobile experiences via a Service Portal or intranet, and in familiar collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, and Workplace by Facebook.

The ServiceNow Virtual Agent is available to all ITSM Pro customers in the Madrid, New York, and Orlando releases.

For customers that have looked at the Virtual Agent in previous releases, Orlando brings updates to the intelligence, pre-built conversations, and omnichannel integrations.

EchoStor’s Virtual Agent Considerations:

The buzz about a chatbot or virtual agent project being able to reduce costs and improve CSAT is more relevant today than ever, especially in a mandatory “Work from Home” era where traditional white-glove service support is not viable, and costs are being scrutinized across all departments.

While the business case, technology, and future potential are all exciting, there are a few key considerations that you will want to keep in mind for understanding your organization’s readiness for ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent.

The Virtual Agent’s Mission

A typical challenge with any chatbot-related project is scope, regardless of toolset or audience, so having a clear mission for the Virtual Agent and setting expectations of its capabilities at the outset of the project is critical.
Chatbot-related projects often fail in the near term when the Bot is asked to do too much from the get-go. This may result in a solution that never makes it to production because:

  • A poor initial experience for the user if the Bot does not behave as they expect
  • The mismatch rate is unacceptable (i.e. – the Bot provides unexpected or inaccurate answers)
  • “Bot sprawl” from other departments launching their own bots results in confusion for your end-users

Clearly defining how the Virtual Agent should assist users out of the gate and having a plan in place for how capabilities will be added over time will help prevent typical issues encountered after launch.

Where to Begin

An initial phase for a Virtual Agent roll-out will depend entirely on the mission; however, organizations will typically want to start with the top call drivers or the highest volume category of tickets/requests.

The effectiveness of the Virtual Agent is increased if the department that is being supported is already leveraging the ServiceNow platform.

If the Virtual Agent project is originating with IT, most will find that the top call drivers that should be addressed to maximize adoption and ROI are: Password Reset, Application Access, Hardware Requests, Application Issues, and Hardware Issues.

Again, while this is a simple blueprint for an initial phase, it is important to consider your future usage of the Virtual Agent and to identify the support and maintenance structure as you continue to provide and enhance this service.

User Interaction & Guidance

Unlike traditional support channels that users are already familiar with, the Virtual Agent channel is still relatively new in both the consumer world and the workplace, so your users will likely need guidance on how to successfully interact with it.

Specific guidance will vary from organization to organization, but coaching users on the following will limit confusion and prevent poor experiences:

  • What can the Virtual Agent do?
  • How should they engage with it?
  • What happens if the Virtual Agent doesn’t answer/resolve the question, request, or issue?

Guidance can be done in the Virtual Agent itself, but also through internal marketing and documentation.

Live Agent Handoff

A natural opportunity that typically accompanies launching Virtual Agent is to provide the ability for users to interact with a support agent over liveServiceNow Live Agent Handoff Screen chat.

If the support staff is already setup to leverage live chat, then this will be a great capability to help better triage conversations in advance and deflect some of the workload.

If the support staff is not already setup to leverage live chat, turning on that live agent handoff is not recommended. The Virtual Agent should open a ticket or request instead.

Technically speaking, it is very easy to enable live chat in ServiceNow, but without a dedicated team to support the response time that is expected from a “live agent” it can create a confusing or poor experience for the end-user.

Conclusion

Existing trends in the marketplace were already driving interest in chatbot capabilities prior to COVID-19, making companies rethink what white-glove service looks like in a work from home environment.

The ServiceNow Virtual Agent is native to the ServiceNow Platform and is capable of answering questions, delivering experiences, and triaging tickets to help customers shift left.

A strategy that takes into account the experiences offered and understanding how they are delivered and maintained over time is crucial to the success of this project.

EchoStor is offering our Virtual Agent Readiness Assessment free of charge until June 30th. For more details or for assistance on getting started please contact Tom Cullen, ServiceNow Practice Lead, at tcullen@echostor.com.

About the Authors:

David Hanson and Paul Wydra III have both been part of the ServiceNow ecosystem for over 8 years after beginning their ServiceNow journey in 2012 & 2013 working directly for ServiceNow.

Before arriving at EchoStor, the duo was part of a startup organization that offered an AI/Virtual Agent product that integrated with ServiceNow and bring with them the experience and expertise on how to successfully roll out a Virtual Agent in medium to large organizations.

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